Eva Joly announced at a press conference this afternoon that she is stepping down as special advisor to the Special Prosecutor’s Office in the investigation into potential criminal activity in connection with the meltdown. This is effective immediately.
Mme Joly intends to run for the presidency in France — hence this change. Originally she had planned to step down at the end of the year, so this comes a couple of months ahead of schedule.
For those who don’t know, Eva Joly is a Norwegian-French magistrate and one of the most highly regarded corruption hunters in the world. In late winter 2009 she took the Icelandic nation by storm when she appeared on Silfur Egils and spoke of her suspicions that extensive criminal activity had taken place in the advent to the bank collapse. Amidst intense pressure from the Icelandic public, the government appointed her a special advisor in the investigation into the collapse.
Mme Joly has always claimed that the investigation would take many years and that the Icelandic public must remain patient [so difficult!]. She has come under intense fire from the more right-wing sections of society [read: those in whose interest it is to suppress any investigation], but is very popular with the liberals. Last year, I interviewed her for this blog here.
At the press conference today Mme Joly reiterated that it is natural for an investigation of this caliber to take time, and that people must be patient. She also said that she has full confidence in the Office of the Special Prosecutor to conclude the investigation, but recommended that it seek the counsel of foreign experts.
I wasn’t at this particular press conference, but in about an hours time am headed out to another that Mme Joly and Björk have called jointly, to discuss the current status of the Magma affair. Eva Joly has publicly declared her support for those who strongly oppose the Magma sale [if you’re confused, see here and here]. I’m not sure whether anything new will come out of this press conference — last I knew, a second committee appointed to examine the sale concluded, as before, that no laws had been broken when Magma of Canada set up a Swedish shelf company for the sole purpose of acquiring control of the Reykjanes geothermal fields for up to 130 years.
It’s so incredibly distressing and discouraging. The sense of powerlessness can be overwhelming, at times — this feeling that the bastards will win, after all, and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. It will be interesting to see if the press conference does anything to change this feeling — after all, Eva Joly has been infusing the Icelandic nation with hope since winter last year, so perhaps she still can.